Fosamax Fractures Continue to Raise Questions About Long-Term Use

Austin Kirk

By Austin Kirk
Posted May 14, 2012


Substantial questions still remain about how individuals should best reduce their risk of suffering a femur fracture from Fosamax, which may occur with little or no trauma at all after long-term use of the osteoporosis medication. As a result of Merck’s failure to adequately research the risks associated with the use of Fosamax, consumers and the medical community are left scratching their heads over how long it is safe to use the medication.

▸ Lawsuits Over Fosamax Fractures

Fosamax (alendronate sodium) was introduced in 1995 and has been prescribed to millions of people throughout the United States for treatment or prevention of osteoporosis.

Although Merck promoted the long-term and continuous use of the medication, side effects of Fosamax may cause certain bones to become weak or brittle after using the drug for a number of years, increasing the risk of suffering a low-energy fracture the longer the medication is used, most commonly involving the thigh bone or femur.

In October 2010, the FDA announced that Merck and the manufacturers of other bisphosphonate medications would update the warning labels about the risk of these atypical femur fractures, encouraging users to seek medical attention if they experienced hip or thigh pain, which may occur before a complete fracture. However, little guidance has been provided to potential users or the medical community about how long the medications can be safely used.

In a report published last week in the New England Journal of Medicine, FDA researchers described how the agency is continuing to have trouble narrowing down how long the drug is safe to use before the risk of fractures outweighs the benefits in preventing injuries associated with osteoporosis.

Researchers wrote:

[T]he emergence of safety concerns warrants consideration of new treatment algorithms for patients with osteoporosis. The available data do suggest that bisphosphonates may be safely discontinued in some patients without compromising therapeutic gains, but no adequate clinical trials have yet delineated how long the drugs’ benefits are maintained after cessation. Additional data are needed to determine whether markers of bone turnover or bone mineral density can reliably aid in decisions concerning duration or interruption of bisphosphonate treatments.

As a result of Merck’s failure to adequately research the long-term side effects of Fosamax or provide sufficient warnings to consumers about the risk of femur fractures, users who suffered an injury may be entitled to financial compensation through a product liability lawsuit.

The Fosamax femur fracture lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. are continuing to review potential cases for individuals throughout the United States. To review a potential claim for yourself, a friend or family member, request a free consultation and claim evaluation.

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